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5 reasons you’re a mediocre marketer

5 reasons you’re a mediocre marketer

Advertising is everywhere. It’s pervasive and influences daily life. There are many great marketing managers out there, and many up-and-coming professionals wanting to get into the field. The problem is that far too often, marketing programs are terrible. Ads suck, research is flawed (or ignored), pricing is inconsistent, products are not up-to-scratch, and the vast majority of marketing is simply ignored or useless.

I’ve written previously about how to be an amazing digital marketer, as well as many of the skills and attributes you need to get to the top of the marketing profession. I’ve talked about the highs, and this post talks about something much more grounded – the lows of marketing. Here are 5 oft-repeated (but not usually thought-through or talked about) mediocre signs that you’re doing “below par” marketing.

1. You run competitions and product giveaways. For me, this is my personal pet peeve. If you want to bring an excellent product to market (either through a new product launch or rebranding) almost all brands and ad agencies default to using competitions or product giveaways. You know the story: “The first 10 people to sign-up to our email list get a free pencil!” or “Please ‘Like’ our Facebook page for a chance to win a brown paper bag”.

Marketers do this simply because they are lazy, can’t come up with a better idea, or simply put no thought as to why products are being given away. If you want to launch a brand new $1,000 dollar product, or have a $100 million revenue target to hit, is a product giveaway or a “chance to win” really going to help you achieve this? REALLY? No. Not ever.

Strong products don’t need a product giveaway or prize. Strong products sell themselves. Strong marketing beautifully articulates the benefits and establishes a powerful emotional connection with customers. Having said that, there may be a tactical reason to run a competition (often to incentivise a change in behaviour) or giveaway products (specifically product sampling, which is a very effective tool), but to avoid being a mediocre marketer, promise yourself never to run a competition when you launch a new product.

2. You don’t understand digital. It doesn’t get any simpler than this. If you don’t understand how your customers are using websites for research, engaging in social networks (on personal and professional levels), how search marketing is the “glue” that makes demand generation programs work, how online video complements TV, or the power of mobile, you’re in the wrong job. Yes, you can rely on experts, specialists and agency partners to help you, but you’ve got to ‘get’ digital. This is particularly true at the most senior levels of an organisation. I’m sure you’ve seen CMOs or other senior leaders not keeping up with the implications of digital transformation. At best they’re mediocre marketers, but the worst culprits are the reason big brands struggle, or even fail.

3. You strive for controversy. The old saying goes: all news is good news (even bad news, right?). But does that really make sense? With today’s hyper-connected and changing world, the idea that “sex sells” or being deliberately controversial (rude, offensive, taking cheap shots at different races/cultures/genders, etc.) is just stupid. A few years ago you might have gotten away with using stereotypes, being smutty, or trying to (offensively) provoke people, but in the modern marketing world you’re more likely to simply make someone angry. The most likely outcomes of being deliberately controversial are that you either:

Whatever the outcome, it’s not going to be good for your brand in either the short or long term.

4. You lack respect and treat people badly. This is a broad category but we’ve all encountered these type of people:

  • The boss who’s rude, has no time to talk to you, talks to you rudely or chews you out in front of other people but still surprisingly knows very little about marketing.
  • The marketing manager running a pitch with impossible timelines, too many agencies in the room and tiny budgets – this person simply lacks empathy and/or understanding.
  • The girl or guy who sees their advertising agency team as slaves, not partners.
  • The ad agency girl or guy who sees their client as a pay cheque, blinded by the need to bring in sales for the agency and not focusing on their client’s needs.
  • The time-waster. Always late for meetings, and when they do arrive they are constantly texting or on a phone call. Argh!

This point is less about being a mediocre marketer but more about being a mediocre person. Don’t be this person.

5. You focus on the wrong things. In the advertising and marketing world, it’s easy to get distracted. You might be focusing too much on your personal brand over your employer’s brand, could be spending too much time on Facebook, having one too many long lunches, being enraptured by that amazing campaign (e.g. Old Spice Guy, Share-a-Coke, Dumb Ways to Die…), or simply being distracted by the latest technology or gadget (yes, including the awesome Samsung Galaxy S4!).

You really should be focusing 100% of your time in doing truly groundbreaking marketing. This could be in the form of things that haven’t been done before, being brilliant at execution, deeply diving into analytics to deliver fantastic insights, or being an amazing networker or relationship builder. If you aren’t at the top of your field in marketing, drop the distractions, focus on delivering outcomes and start immediately. You’re nothing without achievements, so go make something happen!

These 5 reasons are only the start. There are many other reasons you might be a mediocre marketer. I’d love to hear your feedback on this in the comments section below.

More reading:

How to be an amazing digital marketer
The key skills needed to be a successful CMO
From digital marketing executive to CMO: 10 tips to get to the top
What is the best job in the world for you?
Top 10 marketing activities you should be doing in 2013

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